George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 8 May 1787]

Tuesday. 8th. Mercury at [ ] in the Morning—[ ] at Noon and [ ] at Night.

The Weather being squally with Showers I defer’d setting off till the Morning. Mr. Chas. Lee came in to dinner but left it afterwards.

Following his entry for 8 May 1787 GW set off for Philadelphia to attend the Constitutional Convention scheduled to convene on 14 May. He soon realized, however, that his current Mount Vernon diary (which he had numbered volume eight [Regents’ No. 33]) had, he wrote George Augustine Washington, “by mistake” been “left behind” (27 May 1787, CSmH). Before arriving in Philadelphia GW bought another blank leaf booklet, probably in Baltimore, and began another journal (Regents’ No. 34) with an initial entry for Friday, 11 May 1787, the day he left Baltimore on his journey to Philadelphia. The first part of this Philadelphia journal covers the period of the Constitutional Convention and ends with GW’s return to Mount Vernon on 22 Sept. He apparently intended at first to transfer his Philadelphia journal entries into the diary he had left at Mount Vernon but decided instead to make the 23 Sept. entry in his Philadelphia volume, and he continued to make his Mount Vernon entries in the Philadelphia volume until the last blank page was filled with his entry of 15 Nov. At this point GW returned to volume eight of his Mount Vernon diary (Regents’ No. 33) where, following his entry for 8 May, he proceeded to copy (and expand) all of his entries from his Philadelphia journal through 22 Sept., the date he had returned to Mount Vernon. GW turned next to abstracting the farm reports that George Augustine Washington had sent to him during his absence in Philadelphia but quickly realized that such elaborate recopying of other records would be a waste of time and effort, as he explains in the diary. He then went on to transfer into volume eight of the Mount Vernon diaries the remainder of his daily entries from his Philadelphia journal (i.e., his Mount Vernon entries beginning with his entry of 23 Sept.). When this volume was full he was only through 27 Oct. 1787. He then began a new volume (nine [Regents’ No. 35]), completing his transfer into that volume seriatim through the last entry in his Philadelphia journal, that of 15 Nov. 1787.

Now well into his ninth volume of postwar Mount Vernon diaries, GW resumed making his original entries with that for 16 Nov. 1787, in which he noted: “remained within doors all day.” It may have been on this rainy day that he did his copying from his Philadelphia journal into the eighth and ninth volumes of his Mount Vernon diaries. This date seems particularly likely because when he copied his entry of 15 Nov. from the Philadelphia journal he added the information that Mr. O’Kelly and George Steptoe Washington had appeared at Mount Vernon on the fifteenth. The remainder of his 1787 diary appears in the ninth manuscript volume of the postwar Mount Vernon diaries. It should be noted here that when GW copied in his daily entries from his Philadelphia journal to volumes eight and nine of his Mount Vernon diaries he added temperature readings taken each day at Mount Vernon, presumably from his nephew’s farm reports. After the Philadelphia volume was copied, it was probably stored away and seldom referred to, for it is in much better condition than the regular Mount Vernon diaries to which GW often turned to check previous weather and crop entries.

GW’s second and more complete (revised) version of his entries from 9 May through 15 Nov. (found in Regents’ Nos. 33 and 35) is used as the text in this edition of the diaries. Although the information contained in the two versions does not differ greatly, there is considerable variation in length, wording, and tone. The original version of the entries from 9 May through 15 Nov. (Regents’ No. 34) is therefore printed in reduced type in this volume immediately following the diaries for 1787.

A concise acct. of my Journey to Philadelphia, and the manner of spending my time there, and places where, will now follow—after whih. I shall return to the detail of Plantation occurrances as they respect my Crops & intended experiments agreeably to the reports which have been made to me by my Nephew Geo: Auge. Washington in my absence.

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